Monday, January 26, 2004

Open Range

I watched Kevin Costner Open Range last night. I found it a beautiful but flawed movie. The cinematography is wonderful. The vast canvas of the open range is laid out with lush green grasses and brilliant blue skies. The on screen work of Duvall and Costner is also excellent. The motivation of their characters unfolds powerfully through out the movie. The two really seem to like each other. It's this relationship that really saves the film. If the movie had just followed these two characters around the open range it probably would have been a masterpiece.

Unfortunately the formula for a cowboy movie says you need a love interest and some bad guys to have a gunfight with. On the good side the movie has a great gunfight. Every squeeze of the trigger by Costner or Duvall has emotion and purpose. The sense of killing is very real and honest. My problem is with the extra characters - the love interest and the bad guys. In juxtaposition to Costner and Duvall , they are all mindless and wooden. The movie needed to spend a little more time to provide some motivation for their behavior. Annette Bening is wasted in the role of the love interest. She has very little dialog and there's no time spent developing any chemistry between her and Costner.

A nice surprise in the film is the work of Abraham Benrubi who has a minor but pivotal role and does it well. If you've ever watched ER you will recognize Mr Benrubi as the big guy behind the ER desk.

It's sad to see a movie with such potential not be full realized. While the work of Duvall and Costner was superb and the cinematography beautiful, the script was just too uneven and the editing seemed rushed (certain scenes near the end of the movie just don't make much sense). I do recommend the movie but not without reservation.

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